Glass wants better fan experience

[10:45 a.m. UPDATE]

Indiana athletics director Fred Glass said today that he was concerned that the North endzone would exasperate just how outdated some facets of Memorial Stadium are.

To make sure that does not happen, Glass said the university is spending around $3 million in an attempt to brighten up the rest of the stadium and improve the overall fan experience.

First and foremost is the return of the Knothole brand, in the form of a park. The Knothole Park, in the south endzone where concrete now sits, will be a Field Turf replica of the Memorial Stadium field and will be an open place for children to play during games.

“It’s an ode to the old Knothole Club,” Glass said. “When I was a kid, you paid a buck or whatever and got into the Knothole Club. You went on the hill back there from behind the North endzone and threw a ball. Truth be told, I spent a lot more time running up and down the hill than I did in a seat.”

The park will be ready for the season opener against Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 3. While it may have a few small stands, like a blocking sled or face-painting booth, Glass said he hopes to just see children throwing Nerf footballs and for it to become a place that children want to go to and encourage their parents to enter the stadium.

A retro scoreboard is being added to the North endzone, one that Glass said will have a 1930s/1940s feel to it.

In addition, Indiana is replacing the sound system in time for the Oct. 3 Ohio State game (which is when the new building will officially be dedicated); encouraging the band and cheerleaders to have more fun during the games; encouraging Greek organizations and residence halls to buy tickets in the front rows and hang bed sheets; adding ticket booths; sending out ticket sellers into the tailgating areas with tickets and a wireless credit/debit card machine; and giving a fresh coat of paint to many facets of the building, include the entryways and the press box.

Students will be allowed to buy $5 student tickets, and that offer will extend to students from other universities. Glass gave the example of an Indiana student having three friends from Ball State visit the weekend, and how all four would be able to attend the game for $20.

Glass said there are promotions in the planning stage that will attempt to bring in more fans, but it does not appear that there is a plan similar to the $5 balcony seats for men’s basketball games last season.

“The reason IU is last in the Big Ten in terms of how much money we have to spend per sport is because we don’t fill Memorial Stadium,” Glass said. “Getting football right is not only important for football’s sake, but it is important for the entire department.”

The funds are coming from a fundraising drive. Additional funds (also being used towards improving the student-athlete development center) have been created by eliminating open and frozen positions and following the university’s directive for no pay raises.

——–

CHICAGO — It’s 9:40 a.m., and Chris Korman and I are in a large banquet room at the Hyatt Regency.

That can only mean one thing — Big Ten Media Days. It’s officially football season.

We’ll have updates all day, and feel free to comment and ask questions.

23 comments

  1. You should pose a question to Lynch (you probably will in some fashion anyway) in reference to the positive build-up and higher expectations that preceded last year’s team.

    I feel like this year’s team (at least in IU circles) is beginning to be portrayed once again as a team with a lot of hope and potential — a team that will “surprise” some people, etc.

    I’m interested in what Lynch has to say about what makes this year’s expectations more realistic than last year’s. What’s different about this year’s squad that makes them able to live up to those expectations? Why should fans expect better results than last year?

  2. Could you please make it so that TMZ video doesn’t automatically start playing every time I visit your site?

    If I want to watch the damn thing, I’ll click on it.

  3. Well I like hearing all of that. To me it sounds like they actually have been putting some time into finding a way to fix this broken machine. Going as far as to have someone roam the tailgate area with a credit card machine so that they can buy tickets…………although sad…….shows that they have definitely put some time into this.

  4. That’s fantastic news and all very good ideas. The only caveat about the student ticket thing is I hope the offer isn’t extended for the opposing school we are facing. Purdue students shouldn’t be able to buy $5 tickets for the Bucket game, for instance.

    I’m so glad we have an AD that gets that we have to do some things to build up the FB fanbase and get people used to going to the games, instead of just trying to maximize revenue from a limited number of fans.

  5. Fro,

    Good point about Purdue, but here’s the counterpoint:

    If IU students are aware of a possible split crowd for a home Oaken Bucket game, it may create a much higher incentive for them to buy out a majority of the tickets early before Purdue fans can get their hands on them.

    Glass sounds like he has his head in a good place. I’m encouraged by his proactiveness, and his straightforward, honest approach to this situation.

  6. NW is talking about playing a game at Wrigley Field. Minnesota will be playing USC. Would fans attend a game against a quality opponent at Lucas? IU is playing the Kentucky schools. It’s not easy but IU needs to braoden the horizon. How about UK at Lucas and in Louisville, as an example? Home and home with Cincinnati sounds pretty good. I am not against the MAC but Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky?

  7. Just asked Fred Glass that exact situation — could Purdue fans buy student tickets for the Oaken Bucket game?
    His response: “Sure.”

    I am all for creating a fun game day experience at The Rock, but not at the potential expense of a home field advantage. The “money is money” response is incredibly misguided. The objective should be to create great incentives that will maximize a home field advantage.

  8. Pete,

    As I said earlier, making the tickets open and affordable to anyone (including Purdue fans) gives a larger number of IU fans — particularly prideful students — a greater incentive to purchase tickets early.

    How is that not an incentive that maximizes home field advantage?

    And if the scenario occurs in which Purdue fans take away home field advantage by scooping up a ton of tickets, then so be it. That would be a huge kick in the pants to IU fans, and would probably ensure that fans be more active in future years. It’s a smart decision for business and for fan interest.

  9. Casey,

    Point taken, but the thing that gets me is the casual response to the question. Why not use it as an opportunity to reference recent big home wins (Iowa ’06, Purdue ’07)? “The Hoosier Nation helped to create an electric atmosphere the last time we played Purdue in Bloomington, and that is what we need every time out at the Rock.”

    Again, I applaud Glass and staff’s proactivity, but his response to that question struck a chord with me.

  10. I am loving Glass. All sounds good but could IU use some of that 3 mill to put in some more bathrooms in the stadium or at least some more port o pots. Also, use some of that to fix the traffic problem in the green lot after games are over. I love the ticket seller idea in the lots, but when my friends can scalp for 10-25 bucks…maybe that idea is not so good. I LOVE the knothole area. That is really neat along with the retro scrorboard, love it. I will take my kids over at the half for sure!

  11. Hmm, yeah I can understand that perspective.

    My only thought is that he may be intentionally making an attempt to “strike a chord” with fans. Perhaps he’s realizing the collective apathy towards football exhibited by a large portion of the IU nation, and he’s trying to stir the pot a little. Maybe his hope is that there are IU fans reading his transcript and thinking “no way in hell am I about to let a bunch of Purdue fans invade our stadium.” If that is the case, perhaps those fans are more likely to get out and buy a ticket.

    Or maybe that answer wasn’t thought out at all and he just gave a bad response. Who knows?

  12. I don’t think IU is in a position to turn away paying customers of any type right now with football. That said, I also think “Purdue fans are going to take over our stadium” is not enough incentive to get students out to a game if the team isn’t competitive.

    Once the team is competitive, you’ll see the students move the opposing fans out. Or keep a sizable number of them, isolate them in one area of the stadium, and a build a European-soccer style atmosphere with continuous noise and back and forth between fans.

  13. John,

    Any other game I’d agree with your statement, but regardless of record IU fans hate Purdue, and I do think the threat of being overtaken by rival fans would create an increased incentive to fill some seats — even if for the sole purpose of bantering back and forth with Purdue fans the whole game.

    But yes, ultimately all of this planning and effort to increase attendence will hinge greatly upon whether the teams on the field can start making strides in the right direction.

  14. maybe an IU fan with student ID gets the 5 buck seats while his buddies without IU student ID’s get 10 or 15 buck seat! I see the argument!

  15. Sadly, Glass himself summed it up best: “The reason IU is last in the Big Ten in terms of how much money we have to spend per sport is because we don’t fill Memorial Stadium.” And it’s not like IU has any serious home-field advantage anyway, so for the time being I’m afraid it’s more important for the budgetary bottom line that IU sell as many tickets as possible, even if a big chunk of them are to fans of other schools.

  16. I love them bringing back the knothole club! I don’t really remember it being called that, but I remember riding my Huffy to Memorial Stadium in the mid 80’s for many home games and playing in the North end zone.

    I also remember they had the R.O.T.C. out there with a little cannon that they shot off whenever IU scored. Was really loud in that stadium.

    Sounds like Glass understands just how important the football team is to the IU athletics department.

  17. How about bussing IUPUI students down for the games? It’s a 30,000 student campus 50 miles away with no football team. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

  18. I work with merchant services (translation: card transaction processing)to some degree, and the portable wireless swiper is about the newest thing in that field, along with internet-based processing in which the card isn’t swiped at all. The fact that they’re using that shows real creativity and fresh, up-to-date thinking. I like that. It should be fairly easy to convince inebriated fans to buy cheap tickets if all they have to do is pull out their card and go.

    The point about IU not having much budget for other sports due to the relative lack of revenue from football is well-taken. As such I think these ways to increase football revenue are right on the money; it’s up to IU fans to prevent the $5 tickets resulting in a stadium full of opposing fans.

Comments are closed.